Dreams

by Catherine Métayer (tradução abaixo das imagens)

Dreams is a collaborative series of static and motion collages by Nathaniel Whitcomb, entwined with prose (Dave Sutton) and music (various artists), published online by Stadiums & Shrines. Each Dream is a blissful voyage to an exotic place sacred to the artists and rooted in both a bygone world and our imagination.

Sometimes Always happily took a meditative leap into these beautiful audiovisual postcards. We are featuring their newest piece, Alberta, as well as some of our favorites, which will all be part of an upcoming printed publication.

Nathaniel Whitcomb is an American collage artist with an impressive portfolio ranging from handmade static collage, motion collage and live video manipulation as well as animated poster and album cover design. His creations have been featured in important publications (Gestalten – Cutting Edges and IdN Magazine) and festivals (SXSW), and alongside the works of many musicians.

Nathaniel was kind enough to answer some of our mind-wrestling questions.

Dreams really are “destinations of the mind”, as you and Dave describe them. There is a soft nostalgia referencing an era when communications and travel were scarce, and some places were still exotically triggering the imagination. They seem to function the way dreams do, in tying together feelings, images, stories and memories in an unrestrained, almost random way.
What kind of mindset are you in while constructing those scenes? And how are you able to find a balance between your knowledge of those places and improvised exploration?
When I begin work on a Dream collage it feels like the first day traveling to a place I’ve never been before. I spread all the pages I’ve cut from an old book and start to map them out, almost like an itinerary. I explore each little piece separately while the whole experience remains out of reach, almost veiled. It’s not until each element is glued in place that I see the entirety of this strange land that’s been leading me along.
Existing knowledge of these real locations plays little role in their making. I try to leave those notions outside of the process, instead focusing strictly on the images, letting them go anywhere—just as you mentioned, improvising.

More than just beautifully constructed scenes, Dreams spark a sort of poetry, from the spontaneous “encounter” of those dissociated images and strange dispositions. Is that a discovery that you made in the process of collaging or is it part of a conscious and steady initiative to purposefully make those “leaps of meaning” happen?
While there is plenty of improvisation before the cutting, compositionally I leave little to chance. Often I’ve already mentally designated where certain landscapes and character will interact. I make conscious decisions of placement in order to try and evoke something beyond random surreality. By nature of collage the weight or “meaning” of a piece presents itself collectively. Each layer, while dissociated at first, can contribute its own past life. I try to create a new story without thinking of the pre-existing ones, but it’s inevitable that once the piece is finished, the two lives, past and present, entwine in their own way.

Alongside your collages are texts written by Dave Sutton and music from various artists, which create enveloping stories. Do your collages precede the narrative? How do the three come together?
Yes the collage comes first. We then invite artists to create an original piece of music inspired by it. Once the music is composed and sent back, Dave writes prose inspired by both, fusing it all together.

Can you describe the experience of working with visuals from a distant past, when views of the world were perhaps naive and mysterious, narrow or even stereotyped?
I find it refreshing to work with older source material. Since the original photographs were taken before my time, to me, they come with very little experiential influence. People are empty figures awaiting a renewed story. Mountains and buildings are simply shapes and textures without tangible context. There is a history inherently attached to them which does make it all feel a bit naive/mysterious/etc, which adds to each dream’s element of discovery.

While many collage artists claim to portray the “real” world we live in through their eyes, or view their work as an intervention within a visual landscape, you seem to be exploring a completely different realm, by creating evocative and timeless imaginary narratives. Would you mind briefly describing what vision you carry through your artworks in general?
Obviously our world becomes more connected and complex every day. We scroll social media feeds impulsively, finding quick-smile content that doesn’t ask anything of us—I’m just as guilty as everyone else, but sometimes I’d rather not be. It seems harder than ever to be alone with your own thoughts. There’s plenty of benefits to the speed of information, but I think it’s less common to actually fully connect with content, to stop and think deeply about something. I create art as a means of escape: to find a quiet, wondrous space. Like a walk in the woods. With each piece, I simply want to excite that desire to get lost somewhere, and hopefully to find something new while you’re at it.

Can you tell us more about the Stadiums & Shrines platform where you feature Dreams as well as live visual collaborations with musicians such as M. Sage and Megafortress…?
Stadiums & Shrines is an outlet…a place for Dave and I to create and curate. In general, we focus on music’s relationship with the imagination. And ideally, the site is a place for others to explore that connection as well. It was initially a more straightforward music blog that Dave started years ago. I’d been running an arts blog called Think or Smile, and we eventually began jamming behind the scenes on each other’s posts, to the point where officially teaming up made too much sense. Last summer we launched a more focused site that better presented “sound and vision”, and introduced the Dreams project. We believe strongly in the power of collaboration, which quickly became core to the new S&S. Dave has introduced me, either directly or indirectly, to many artists that I’ve gone on to collaborate with in live settings. Really, I’m honored to have fallen into this community.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with SA.



“Four worlds expand over separate easels and outwards, selectively intertwined by the
unknown—this constant, revolving sense of consideration.

A manor constructed over a reservoir, its residents accept life at an aqueous tilt. Two tribes
peel Mount Victoria from the water’s edge, its range perpetually snow-capped, sapphire blues
overlap. Badlands collapse into boreal forest and back again; horses gallop above the
timberline; a man repels through time, reading the eons, meter by meter.

Eyes between canvas and cliff, she watches him, wondering what other accents of hers might
appear and which may fade. Like the seasons, but more sporadic, she thought, like emotions.”



“Generations of economy shifted like tectonic plates, framed in a panorama by his tower
window. Automobiles pulsed through the veins of the raw metropolis below.

His notes shook, his script now an unconstrained freehand—the spikes of each crosshatch
piercing the page just as the buildings pierced the sky.

Brasília was pouring out onto itself; a wilderness redefined; a city alive.”



“Snap. A flute’s groove dazzles through the canyon, its walls now breathing a fiery brown and green.

Snap. The great celestial lid pops off, giving way to broad strokes of purple and rose.

Each snap from the giant hand sends another piece of the Republic heating wildly out of
grayscale. Every creature within reach of the kaleidoscopic call responds. The zebras are the
first to act; their tails wrapped to one another, they leap in unison—out of their two-toned
suits for good. “Come on down,” people sing from the building tops.

Gravity be damned, the crystal balls won’t fall, the whole show floats.”



“Moons rest low enough to touch. Everything; all walls and walkways, even the luminescent
spheres themselves, porcelain.

Men wander the labyrinth of labyrinths of labyrinths, peaking in and out of corridors. Passing
the same markets again and again and again… they pick up telephones, only to meet the
vacant hiss of the exiled. Omnipresent mantras tangle in the shadings of stone and menacing
branches.

They find doors within doors within doors, confronting interiors far larger than spatial
reasoning would suggest. Beyond one frame, a desert fortress overlooks the Dead Sea at high
noon, a panning mirage. Inside another, the scene repeats from the opposite vantage, hours
later, glistening under moons partially submerged in salt. Through the next, a threshold
brightens at dawn, clearing the fortress and the sea overhead, its reflection cycling from speck
to surge—cumalitively, again, rippling porcelain without end.”



“Two skies meet at the indigo hour. The rails of the infinite staircase edged—one sky pale
blue, the other crimson—swirling upwards to the margin. Walls vanish, and bathers flock to
the yawning mouth of Ganges River.

Knowing the eclipse is near, Scorpio dashes across the marble terrace. Unnoticed, as mosaic
pillars flash, he swipes the sacred reliquary.

Each ascending step brings him further from the city, closer to the gods—he hopes. Glancing
back, down, one last time; a hundred spires line the horizon. Scorpio laughs in a fit of victory,
twisting ahead again to face his new universe, and, to his surprise, its wrath. With a single
brush of the sun, his vapor paints the air in a howl.”



“She had seen the Chilean coast before, though only in paintings, then dreams. She’d seen his
face as well, it seemed, in fleeting glimpses or in the tides of a reverie. Now closer, inside an
actual moment, from a chair on a terrace near the water’s edge, neither the coast nor his
features were entirely true to form—better, in fact, to her delight.

The tables had been cleared. And one by one the guests were swaying themselves into dusk.
Spectres of spirit animals trailed behind.

Diagonally from across the courtyard, clouded in his own smoky exhales, the man had seen
her too. He wondered what spell made her so radiant—the night’s glow, the way it softened
her in pastels; the ocean’s slow breath, how it conversed with her own.

By now the waiters had traded their trays for guitars, their ponchos laced with bells, their tip
jars rattling, their dance one of courtship, the Cueca as they knew it. And by night’s end, the
man would swap his seat with a hawk, she with a dove, and together they would fly over the
long, narrow, enchanted nation.”



“On any square of the calendar, Angel Falls, the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, drew
the eyes of hundreds. Deservingly so. But today it moved differently, vibrating like the
strings of a harp—clouded, as if rethinking the pace of its own flow. One could say it had
been interrupted.

Down below, the people reacted to the rumblings in far less harmony; a siren sounded, cueing
most to flee. Still, from the bridge a small crowd looked on as darkness overtook the crest of
the tallest mountain. Above it emerged the cause of this eclipse, something no person at that
distance could quite define.

In a slow, mesmerizing descent, the structure carved across the countryside, denting sheets of
land with ease. And with under a mile to go, and among the last inches of daylight, the
silhouette finally took shape. A mast grew, and out from each opening of this
incomprehensible vessel, arms dangled elongated and sinewy, their glow bouncing off Angel
Falls and into the dusk.”


por Catherine Métayer

Dreams‘ é uma série colaborativa de colagens estáticas ou animadas de Nathaniel Whitcomb, entrelaçadas com prosa (Dave Sutton) e música (vários artistas) e publicadas online por ‘Stadiums & Shrines‘. Cada ‘Dream’ é uma bem-aventurada viagem para um lugar exótico e sagrado para os artistas, e enraizado tanto em um mundo passada quanto em nossa imaginação.

Nas últimas semanas, o Sometimes Always fez uma imersão meditativa nesses cartões postais audiovisuais. Apresentamos aqui o mais recente trabalho do grupo, ‘Alberta‘, assim como algumas de nossas peças favoritas, que estarão presentes numa futura publicação impressa.

Nathaniel Whitcomb é um artista americano com forte foco em colagens e um portifólio impressionante variando entre colagens feitas a mão, colagens animadas, manipulação de video ao vivo, pôsteres animados e capas de discos. Suas criações já estiverem em importantes publicações (Gestalten – Cutting Edges and IdN Magazine) e festivais (SXSW) ao lado do trabalho de inúmeros artistas.

Nathaniel foi gente boa o bastante pra responder algumas de nossas não tão fáceis perguntas.

‘Dreams; são realmente ‘destinos da mente’, como você e Dave as descrevem. Existe uma nostalgia mansa referenciando uma era onde comunicação e viagens eram escassas, e alguns lugares ainda desencadeavam nossa imaginação de uma maneira exótica. Elas parecem funcionar como sonhos, amarrando sentimentos, imagens, histórias e memórias de uma maneira desenfreada, quase casual.
O que passa na sua cabeça quando você constrói essas cenas? E como consegue encontrar um balanço entre seu conhecimento sobre esses lugares e uma exploração improvisada?
Quando eu comecei a trabalhar em uma dessas colagens, parecia como o primeiro dia em você viaja pra um lugar em que nunca tinha ido antes. Eu espalho um monte de páginas que eu recorto de um livro velho e começo a mapea-las, quase como um itinerário. Eu exploro cada pedacinho separadamente enquanto toda a experiência parece fora de alcance, quase velada. É só quando cada elemento está colado que consigo ver a totalidade dessa terra estranha que me levou junto com ela.
O conhecimento prévio desses lugares reais tem um papel muito pequeno nesse processo de criação. Eu tento deixar esse conhecimento de fora do processo, em vez disso, foco estritamente nas imagens, deixando-as ir onde elas quiserem – como você falou, improvisando.

Mais do que belas cenas construídas, ‘Dreams; desperta uma espécie de poesia, do ‘encontro’ espontâneo dessas imagens dissociadas e uma disposição estranha. Isso é uma descoberta que você faz no processo da colagem ou faz parte de uma iniciativa consciente e estável de fazer esses ‘saltos de significados’ acontecer?
Enquanto tem um monte de improvisação antes do corte, isso não acontece tanto assim durante a composição em si. Frequentemente eu já designei mentalmente onde cada paisagem e cada personagem vai estar e como vão interagir. Eu tomo decisões conscientes de onde vou colocar cada componente a fim de tentar e evocar algo além de surrealismo aleatório. Pela natureza da colagem o peso ou o “sentido” de uma peça se apresenta coletivamente. Cada camada, embora dissociada num primeiro momento, pode contribuir para sua própria vida passada. Eu tento criar uma história nova sem pensar naquela que já existe, mas é inevitável que, assim que uma obra é finalizada, as duas histórias vivam, passado e presente, e se entrelaçam em sua própria maneira.

Ao lado de suas colagens estão os textos de Dave Sutton e música de artistas variados, criando, assim, histórias envolventes. Suas colagens precedem a narrativa? Como os três se encontram?
Sim, as colagens vêm primeiro. Daí então convidamos os artistas pra criarem uma canção original inspirada por ela. Assim que a música é composta e enviada de volta pra nós, Dave escreve a prosa inspirada tanto na colagem quanto na trilha, fundindo as duas.

Você pode descrever a experiência de trabalhar com imagens de uma passado distante, quando as visões do mundo eram, talvez, ingênuas e misteriosas, quadradas ou até estereotipadas?
Eu acho revigorante trabalhar com fontes de materiais mais antigas. Como as fotos originais foram tiradas antes do meu tempo, para mim, eles vêm com muito pouca influência experiencial. Pessoas são figuras vazias a espera de uma história renovada. Montanhas e edifícios são simplesmente formas e textura sem nenhum contexto tangível. Existe uma história inerente ligada à elas que faz com que elas pareçam ingênuas/misteriosas/etc, e acaba por adicionar elementos de descobrimento a cada ‘Dream’.

Enquanto muitos artistas de colagens afirmar retratar o mundo ‘real’ em que vivemos através de seus olhos, ou vêem seus trabalhos como uma intervenção em uma paisagem visual, você parece explorar uma esfera completamente diferente, criando narrativas imaginárias evocativas e atemporais. Você se importaria em descrever brevemente qual visão seu trabalho carrega de uma maneira geral?
Obviamente nosso mundo se torna cada vez mais conectado e complexo. A gente vê atualizações de mídias sociais compulsivamente, encontrando sorrisos imediatos que não nos questionam nada – eu sou culpado como qualquer um, mas as vezes tento não ser. Me parece cada vez mais difícil estar sozinho com seus próprios pensamentos. Existem vários benefícios nessa rapidez de informação, mas eu acho que é mais raro se conectar por completo com qualquer conteúdo, parar e pensar profundamente sobre alguma coisa. Eu crio arte como uma forma de escape; pra encontrar um espaço quieto, prodigioso. Como uma caminhada no campo. Em cada peça, eu simplesmente quero provocar aquele desejo de se perder em algum lugar, e com sorte, encontrar algo novo enquanto você está ali.

Você pode nos dizer mais sobre o ‘Stadiums & Shrines’ onde ‘Dreams’ é publicado assim como colaborações visuais com músicos como M. Sage e Megafortress…?
O ‘Stadiums & Shrines’ é um outlet… um lugar pro Dave e eu criarmos e fazer curadorias. Em geral, focamos na relação da música com a imaginação. E idealmente, o site é um lugar pra qualquer um explorar essas conexões também. Era inicialmente um blog de música que Dave criou há alguns anos atrás. Naquele momento, eu tinha um blog de arte chamado ‘Think or Smile’, e eventualmente, a gente brincava com os posts um do outro, até que oficialmente juntar os blogs fazia muito mais sentido. No último verão lançamos um site mais focado que representaria melhor ‘som e visão’, e introduzimos o ‘Dreams’. A gente acredita profundamente no poder da colaboração, que rapidamente se tornou o cerne do novo ‘Stadiums & Shrines’. Dave me introduziu, direta e indiretamente, a um monte de artista que acabei colaborando em projetos ao vivo. Sinceramente, me sinto honrado de fazer parte dessa comunidade.

Muito obrigado por dividir suas ideias com o Sometimes Always.

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